In Pictures: 2019 CMT Artists Of The Year

Pictured: Honoree Reba McEntire accepts an award onstage from Vince Gill during the 2019 CMT Artist of the Year at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on October 16, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT/Viacom

Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay, Kane Brown, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett were honored as 2019’s CMT Artists of the Year, while Ashley McBryde was celebrated as Breakout Artist of the Year and Reba McEntire feted as Artist of a Lifetime last night (Oct. 16).

Several moments had the audience in tears, including Kane Brown’s heartfelt speech, dedicating his CMT Artists of the Year win to his late drummer Kenny Dixon, who died Saturday (Oct. 12).

Later, as he was accepting his own CMT Artists of the Year honor, Thomas Rhett took time to pray for Brown, his family, and his team, as many in the audience helped lift them up in prayer. Thomas Rhett’s wife Lauren Akins introduced her husband and second-time honoree before he performed “Dream You Never Had.”

Actor Lonnie Chavis (This Is Us) introduced special guest Chris Young, who performed his moving song, “Drowning.” Young penned the song after the death of one of his close friends, and performed it in honor of Dixon.

Dan + Shay’s mega-watt rendition of “Tequila” started the show, while Bobby Bones welcomed the audiences tuning in from home, as well as those assembled at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Tori Kelly, who previously collaborated with the duo on their hit “Speechless,” presented Dan + Shay with their first CMT Artists of the Year honor.

Fellow first-time honoree Luke Combs accepted his honor via a taped acceptance video. This Is Us star Chrissy Metz then took the stage to offer a rendition of Combs’ “Even Though I’m Leaving.”

Carrie Underwood offered a performance of two of her classics, “Two Black Cadillacs,” and “Blown Away,” live via satellite from a stop on her current Cry Pretty Tour 360 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her tourmates Maddie & Tae introduced the performance and presented Underwood with her fifth Artists of the Year trophy in front of thousands of fans.

Kid Rock honored Ashley McBryde with her Breakout Artist of the Year honor. McBryde then performed her latest single, “One Night Standards,” for the first time on television, and offered her own heartfelt thanks to those who have championed her career.

Lady Antebellum honored Reba McEntire with a performance of Reba’s “Is There Life Out There,” before Vince Gill presented his ‘friend of a lifetime’ with her CMT Artist of a Lifetime honor. Sam Hunt then surprised everyone by taking the stage to perform McEntire’s signature song “Fancy.”

“2019 CMT Artists of the Year” will re-air Friday, October 18 at 7:30 a.m. ET; Saturday, October 19 at 1 a.m. ET; and Sunday, October 20 at noon ET; the full show is available for viewing now via

Pictured: Honorees Thomas Rhett and Reba McEntire. Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT/Viacom

Pictured: Tori Kelly and Chrissy Metz. Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT/Viacom

Pictured: Chrissy Metz and Vince Gill. Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT/Viacom

Pictured: Lindsay Ell and RaeLynn. Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT/Viacom


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Category: Artist, Featured

About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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